"Mom," he called to me as I was standing on the bridge taking his picture, "You have to come down here! It's beautiful. Quick! Come!"
An elderly couple holding hands was passing by us. The man looked at me
"Mom, he's not lying. It is very pretty down there. You should go look.
Have a good day!"
So I walked down and I saw a great waterfall that
wasn't visible from the bridge (though it was audible). And I saw a
beautiful little creek going down the path.
But mostly I saw a boy,
who was clearly in love with nature. We stayed in this spot for about
20 minutes. He splashed the water with sticks, wondered if he could jump
onto rocks, and watched leaves and sticks travel down the water to see
if they would go to the right or the left. It was a glorious.
It is a small moment of our day. But it is a good moment.
Without going in to too much detail, mister man is struggling with some areas of responsibility and I am struggling to parent him these days. There is often not enough laughter. There is me getting frustrated, mad, confused. There is him getting frustrated, mad, confused.
He is an eight year old boy. The world is so big and there is still so much he doesn't know. And even more stuff he doesn't know he doesn't know.
He's not a bad kid - on the contrary, he's a great kid. He has a good heart. He cuddles with me still. He shares his stuffed animals with me so I have something to sleep with at night.
But he can be wild, active, bouncy, he doesn't always listen and he doesn't always do what he's supposed to.
He's only eight. And yet, he's eight years old! We've joked that he tends to act about five.
He was five when I was diagnosed with cancer. Just five years old. Old enough to know something was up. Old enough to be scared when I was sick. Old enough to know I was at the hospital. Old enough to know that people were worried about me. Old enough to worry about me himself.
And yet, so young. Too young to fully understand it. Too young to have to deal with all that crap. Too young to have so much time with a mom who was sick and wasn't always capable of doing what she should have done in that moment.
It didn't dawn on me until the spring the connection between things. I didn't get it.
Now I do. And my heart breaks. My heart breaks for him ... this boy who I feel confident will grow up to be a great man, and yet, we have such moments of struggle.
As I've said before, I feel I'm supposed to tell you that cancer was a gift! And my kids came out the other side better than ever! And it's awesome! And great! In some ways, they have come out better - they have empathy, sympathy, they understand that bad things can happen in the blink of an eye. But, even with that, it's still tough. It was hard on all of us, and that includes my children.
So I've been trying to do better, to parent him better, to help guide him. I try to get him outside more. I've reversed tactics and have given him more responsibility. Initially I thought well if he can't do what we're asking for, ask for less. But no, he doesn't need lower standards, he needs higher ones. New rules are in place. New rewards are in place.
He's been spending time in the kitchen with us. He comes alive in there. He wants to help, he wants to do well!
And we had this moment, out at a local forest preserve last weekend. And it was glorious. Truly, truly glorious. I spend a lot of times these days thinking about all the things I've done wrong for my kids (some things I have no control over, some I do). I know it hasn't been all wrong. But this moment at the waterfall, was perfection. It was a perfect moment. I will hold on to it in my heart.